Theater official resigns over complaints of unsafe conditions, insensitivity

  • Lisle native David Zak

    Lisle native David Zak Courtesy of Bob Eddy

 
 
Updated 7/3/2020 8:24 PM

Lisle native David Zak stepped down as executive director of Pride Films and Plays, a position he has held since the company's founding in 2010. He was replaced by artistic associate Donterrio Johnson, who was named artistic director.

The board of directors announced the change in leadership Friday after charges of unsafe working conditions, insensitivity and misconduct surfaced on social media and in a Change.org petition.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"We have heard and taken seriously concerns of individuals who were offended and hurt by comments made by PFP's leadership," said board members in a prepared statement. "It is a strategic priority of the board and leadership to ensure inclusion and diversity in all we do. This includes an emphasis on the voices and talents of people of color and a priority for our organization as we create safe, welcoming creative spaces."

Zak issued an apology stating he "would not intentionally offend, hurt, or exclude anyone in our arts community."

"I know the importance of creating a safe work environment in theater and film for all people who are so often marginalized ... there is much more work that could and should have been done for us to be truly inclusive and sensitive," he said in a prepared statement. "As the leader of this team, I let too many people down and cannot find words to express how sorry I am."

Director/choreographer Jon Martinez, whose Facebook post about his PFP experience drew hundreds of comments from fellow theater artists, saluted their bravery and promised to "forever be their warrior on and offstage."

"I never called for a resignation or a closing of a theater. I don't subscribe to cancel culture," Martinez wrote in an email, adding "we have a duty to create a world that is safe and accepting. I will always hold the people in positions of power accountable."

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